Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Heading To The Polls

Given the opposition rhetoric, the fact that Harper is choosing the prorogue route sets the stage for an election:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to announce Tuesday afternoon that he will delay the return of Parliament to mid-October, CTV News is reporting.

If Harper does go to the Governor General for a proclamation to prorogue Parliament, the big political question is whether he is doing it simply to get a fresh start or because he hopes to trigger defeat of his minority Conservative government so he can call an election to seek a majority.

I don't buy the "fresh start" angle, mainly because the opposition has been quite vocal in recent weeks, which surely enters into the Conservatives calculations. Possibly a move to call the opposition's bluff, particularly Dion, but Harper may create an environment where there is no choice.

I see this decision as the Conservatives orchestrating their own defeat. Even if the Conservative intention isn't an election, it forces the opposition to ramp up their election preparedness, which creates a momentum that isn't easily abandoned. Harper's announcement today sets everything in motion, and with a full six weeks before Parliament returns, the rhetoric will only intensify. In many respects, all three opposition leaders have backed themselves in a corner, it is hard to see how they can tactfully withdraw and look credible.

13 comments:

knb said...

Man, you have to give Harper and team their due here. They are strategists or is it tacticians in this case? Maybe both.

Steve, did you watch Politics tonight? Newman was the only one pointing out the obvious, everyone else seemed to be under the "spell"...maybe it's the end of summer fog.

It seems pretty clear to me that Harper has simply adopted Dion's position, (which he made clear in February). Here's where it get muddy though... MacKay. He said that he'd spoken with NATO, intimating that they knew we were out of combat in 2009, but not stating that clearly. There is the fog and the corner Dion may be in.

My intuition tells me this. Harper doesn't necessarily want an election, but if their strategy this summer was to develop policy, with heavy guns aimed at the opposition, they will bet on the fact, that they are better prepared, (war room, etc.), than anyone else. They'd be right and your mention of opposition preparedness is probably accurate. I won't underestimate the big red machine...but this is a tough one.

Steve V said...

"Steve, did you watch Politics tonight? Newman was the only one pointing out the obvious, everyone else seemed to be under the "spell"...maybe it's the end of summer fog."

I missed most of it, but I did catch some of Duffy. Nobody even entertained the idea of Harper wanting an election, it was all "fresh start" analysis. I'm reading MacKay as a deliberate attempt to take Afghanistan off the table. There are already rumblings that the new throne speech will put a focus on the environment, which tells me they are trying to neuter the two achilles heels prior to an election.

Gayle said...

Maybe someone should mention that Harper will have basically wasted an entire 18 months by doing this? Don't we lose all the bills that have not yet passed (does this include senate bills?). We are paying these people for gods sake - and on a whim he decides to throw 18 months down the drain and start again?

Steve V said...

gayle

I was looking around for a tally of all the bills that will die, as a result of this move. I hope one of the opposition parties posts the total, because I doubt Canadians will be impressed.

Gayle said...

Accountability my a**.

This one really makes me mad - even though I would be happy for an election. I think enough people are pi**ed at Harper that the liberals may squeak through with a minority.

Steve V said...

A lot of wasted work, not to mention a 4 month holiday.

Scott Tribe said...

If the Tories kill the re-vamped Environment Act that the oppositon revamped, and/or ignore the Kyoto Accountability Act, I think Dion should declare non-confidence in the government, and let the other opposition parties make their own minds up. Thats the issue we can go on, as well as some other uh.. issues out there.

Steve V said...

scott

All this talk about the environment being the key to the new throne speech, might be the Conservatives answer to snubbing their noses at Parliament, providing them a counter in an election.

Calgary Junkie said...

In many respects, all three opposition leaders have backed themselves in a corner, it is hard to see how they can tactfully withdraw and look credible

Dion could have his Opposition Critics vote against the throne speech, and have all his other MPs abstain.

He can spin this as "The Liberal Party disagrees with the tone of the throne speech, but not enough to force an election over it. There is too much that is vague. We will wait for the specifics contained in the budget."

Last June in Question Period, Duceppe was asking Harper to address the fiscal imbalance by transferring tax points instead of cash to Quebec. Harper replied that there are many ways to address the fiscal imbalance, he prefers the cash route for now, but welcomes suggestions from the BLOC leader as to other ways of doing it.

So there's the dance that Harper and Duceppe can play on the throne speech. Harper leaves out mention of tax points. Duceppe insists that tax points get put in. Harper agrees.

Re Harper and Layton, there's no compromise possible that would allow both of them to save face with their repsective caucuses.

Steve V said...

"Dion could have his Opposition Critics vote against the throne speech, and have all his other MPs abstain."

I don't think that will fly at all, makes the Liberals look weak and frankly scared. I agree, you have a point with Duceppe.

Calgary Junkie said...

The Liberals would look even weaker if enough of them just don't show up for the final vote. At least my way, they look organized.

The Dippers are guaranteed to vote against the throne speech. Duceppe heard from his caucus that he needs to get tougher with Harper.

So if Duceppe can't find a face-saving exit, then Dion is on the spot, and has to have some kind of voting plan. This, of course, is assuming that Dion doesn't want an election, which most of the pundits are saying.

Anonymous said...

An angle I just thought of - if for any reason Harper gets a majority - we're in Afghanistan for many years and that's why he's being rather vague about it.

Steve V said...

anon

Exactly!

junkie

I think he looks weak in both scenarios, which is why I believe they will vote against the government.